176 THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
and made an oven to dry them well. The same evening we all set to work to peel and afterwards to beat the flax and strip off the bark; and lastly, to comb it with my carding machine. I took this task on myself, and drew out distaffs full of long soft flax ready for spinning; my wife was delighted, and wanted me to make her a wheel without delay. It was no easy task, but at last I succeeded, whereupon she fell so eagerly to spinning that she had no time for anything else.
On our first visit to Tent House we found the ravages of winter considerable ; the tempest and rain had beaten down the tent, and made havoc amongst our provisions. Luckily our handsome pinnace was safe, but our tub boat was in too shattered a state to be of any further use.
In looking over the stores we found the gunpowder, of which I had left three barrels in the tent, the most damaged. This gave me the idea of searching for a cavern, in which we might store the remainder more safely. After hunting carefully in all directions we found a hole which, though not large in itself, seemed to form the entrance to a mighty grotto. I despatched Jack on the buffalo to Falcon Stream, to tell his